Functional analysis, using in vitro mutagenesis, of amino acids located in the phenylalanine hydroxylase active site

Ian G. Jennings, Richard G.H. Cotton, Bostjan Kobe

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The 3-dimensional structure determination of rat phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) has identified potentially important amino acids lining the active site cleft with the majority of these having hydrophobic side-chains including several with aromatic side chains. Here we have analyzed the effect on rat PAH enzyme kinetics of in vitro mutagenesis of a number of these amino acids lining the PAH active site. Mutation of F299, Y324, F331, and Y343 caused a significant decrease in enzyme activity but no change in the Km for substrate or cofactor. We conclude that these aromatic residues are essential for activity but are not significantly involved in binding of the substrate or cofactor. In contrast the PAH mutant, S349T, showed an 18-fold increase in Km for phenylalanine, showing the first functional evidence that this residue was binding at or near the phenylalanine binding site. This confirms the recently published model for the binding of phenylalanine to the PAH active site that postulated S349 interacts with the amino group on the main chain of the phenylalanine molecule. This result differs with that found for the equivalent mutation (S395T), in the closely related tyrosine hydroxylase, which had no effect on substrate Km, showing that while the architecture of the two active sites are very similar the amino acids that bind to the respective substrates are different.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Catalytic site
  • In vitro mutagenesis
  • Phenylalanine binding site
  • Phenylalanine hydroxylase
  • Tetrahydrobiopterin

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